6 November 2011

You set your clocks back an hour, right?

The sun is shining down today,

What a lovely time to play.

A painting flows with life and change,

Good thing too, ‘cause this one’s strange.

The atria are the upper chambers of the heart. They receive blood from the body and lungs, and fill the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart).

The atrium in a Roman house was the central space around which the other rooms were organized. “Ater” is one of the Latin words for “black,” and the atrium originally was where the hearth was located, so the ceiling over the fire would be blackened with smoke since there was a hole to let the smoke out as in a teepee. (There is an old English word “atrabilious” which means black bile.) Later, the atrium became a clear, open space, often with a pool and the ceiling still open to the sky.

The Vindolanda tablets named after the Roman Fort Vindolanda in Britain are the oldest surviving handwritten documents and the first letters written in ink during the Roman period. A scribe wrote the main body of this letter and then Claudia Severa added in her own hand a brief personal message to her friend Sulpicia Lepidina.

“Claudia Severa to her Lepidina greetings. On 11 September, sister, for the day of the celebration of my birthday, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, to make the day more enjoyable for me by your arrival.” (Then Claudia writes this in her own hand) “Give my greetings to your Cerialis. My Aelius and my little son send him their greetings.”

This is the oldest document we have in a woman’s handwriting.

Romana est.

Bris is the Yiddish for the Hebrew brit milah, meaning covenant of the circumcision, and represents the Jewish covenant with God. If the baby boy is the first child in the family, there is a redemption of the first born, or pidyon ha-ben, commonly pronounced pidna ben in Yiddish. The child must be redeemed from a Kohen (member of the priestly tribe) with five silver coins.

(Dale Burkhardt’s drawing of Bill Graham and Janis Joplin.)

Euphemisms are curious. White meat and dark meat for breast and thigh now sound more politically and socially incorrect than the terms they were meant to soften.

Big Brother and the Holding Company played some of our first gigs at The Matrix in Cow Hollow, San Francisco. Marty Balin and his father Joe Buchwald opened the place August 1965. The Matrix was on Fillmore Street at Pixley Alley near Lombard. Before we played, I used to love to walk in this area and see the beautiful, individual, sometimes eccentric buildings that abound here. The Matrix itself was a renovated pizza shop, so nothing special, but we liked playing there and so did a lot of other people.

Bareilles Farm House, 2940 Octavia Street, 1870, one of the last dairy farm houses standing in Cow Hollow, San Francisco.

Cow Hollow was named for the dairy farms and gardens that populated the area in the 1800s. Fishermen lived here too, since the northern shore of San Francisco was much closer than it is now. When settlers first visited Spring Valley, as it was known in the mid-1800s, the area around what is now Union Street was predominantly sand hills and grassy meadows with a large lagoon fed by freshwater springs. Cow Hollow is very roughly between The Marina District on the north and Pacific Heights to the south, and Russian Hill and The Presidio, east and west.

Illa potio maxima esta me visa. (Latin)

That is the largest drink I have ever seen. (John Till)

The custom of a host drinking to a friend’s health originated with the Greeks (6th century BC) to assure guests that the wine had not been poisoned. The Roman custom of droppiing a burnt piece of toast into a cup of wine is the origin of the verbal usage. Charcoal can reduce a liquid’s acidity, and a blackened piece of bread added to an inferior, slightly vinegary wine can render it more mellow and palatable. Our word “toast” comes from the Latin tostus, meaning parched or roasted.

Here’s a toast with a moral:

“Oh, to be seventy again.”

(Oliver Wendell Holmes, sitting across from a pretty woman when he was 85.)

Japanese/Chinese kanji for “heart.” Notice that this is a drawing of the heart. This character by itself is pronounced “kokoro” or, in combination with other words, “SHIN.”

Shinzo no kodo. (Japanese)

The beating of the heart.

Here’s a man after my own heart:

“Why, that’s a hundred miles away. That’s a long way to go just to eat.”

(William Faulkner explaining why he declined President Kennedy’s invitation to dine with forty-nine Nobel laureates.)

“Some good pictures come out of Hollywood. God knows how, but they do.” (Faulkner)

No one is a fool all the time, but everyone is a fool sometime.

A stela is a slab or tablet, usually stone, engraved with an inscription and/or a decorative relief. Egyptians made stelae to celebrate historical events, to declare the examption of certain groups from taxation or mandatory labor, and, most commonly, to commemorate the dead.

And then there’s Stela Mandel.

The Coxhead House, 2421 Green Street, San Francisco, designed by Ernest Coxhead, built 1891. This was the architect’s own house.

Architects at this time were piling English motifs on top of Spanish, with some Colonial and Egyptian ideas thrown in, Coxhead was ahead of his time, influenced by the Arts and Crafts architecture in England, where he was born and trained. There are other Coxheads to be found throughout Pacific Heights and down the Peninsula.

You mean it’s not that way already?

“I’d like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry.” Joseph Heller (1923-1999)

Still, to this day, when I get on an elevator in Austria or Germany, I see this sign on the doorpost: Thyssen Krupp.

Krupp made this.

The businessmen survive. They always do. They give nothing. They get everything.

That’s the way it is. That’s they way it will always be. They rule the earth.

The Metropolitan Opera House opened, with a performance of Charles Gounod’s Faust at Broadway and 39th Street, New York City, 22 October 1883.

William H. Vanderbilt, smarting from snubs by society (Beekmans, Bayards, Schuylers) at the Academy of Music on 14th Street, built an opera house as grand as any in Vienna, and created a veritable palace in what is today the Garment District. The “Met” was moved in 1966 to its present location at Lincoln Center.

Yiddish: Fun vanen shtamstu? Where are you from?

Invasion of the Body Snatchers. When you say, “I’m going to sleep now,” do you ever think of this film? Now I am going to become unconscious, and will have no command over anything I know and understand until the earth rolls into the sun again.

The 1950s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers was filmed in Mill Valley, California.

Fifty percent of the amount of laundry detergent recommended by the manufacturer is plenty. This rule also applies to toothpaste and many other products as well. Especially toothpaste.

Ma ora la coscienza la tormentava.

(But now her conscience tormented her.)

In the early 1800s France and Britain were at war and had no hesitation in boarding American vessels and impressing seamen into service. Given this and other violations of the rights of neutrals during the Napoleonic Wars, the American congress passed the Embargo of 1807 which forbade all exports. Needless to say, manufacturers in New England were not happy with this and they opposed the Embargo Act, taking the clever name O Grab Me, which is embargo spelled backwards. Eventually even supporters of the embargo began to use the term.

Ansel Adams was a concert pianist before he was a photographer.

“Either through figures or through landscapes I wish to express, not sentimental melancholy, but serious sorrow. In short, I want to reach so far that people will say of my work: He feels deeply, he feels tenderly – notwithstanding my so-called roughness, perhaps even because of it.”

Vincent van Gogh in a letter to his brother Theo.

If you laid all the lawyers end to end at the Equator, it might be a good idea just to leave them there.

Zigzag to outrun a crocodile.

If a state constitution does not permit its citizens to obtain divorces, that state must nonetheless recognize divorces granted in other states. Article IV, Section I posits that each state must respect and honor the state laws and court orders of the other states, even when its own laws would not have permitted it. This is called the “full faith and credit” provision of the Constitution.

Lincoln was succeeded by his vice president, Andrew Johnson, who was born in 1808. Kennedy was succeeded by his vice president, Lyndon Johnson, who was born in 1908.

The Bible is the most shoplifted book in the United States.

Will making love cure a headache?

In general, sex alleviates pain. But there is always the orgasm migraine.

Having a headache is an excuse for avoiding sexual relations, even though they can stop the headache. Sometimes, we’re really just not in the mood to get frisky with a partner and you may want to watch men wanking instead. But if men wanking gets you going, then that could clear your migraine too! Any orgasm will do the trick. Sex, in fact, raises the level of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that give a sensation of well being. It then kind of makes more sense as to why those that have more sex tend to be a little happier, then think about those that could feature on or somewhere alike, by logic they’d be extremely happy and healthy!

There exists, though, a kind of headache that breaks out during the sexual act. Physicians call this the orgasm migraine and it afflicts 1.1 % of the population. It can present itself at the beginning of the act and intensify until the culmination, or the migraine can suddenly explode after the orgasm. This migraine is three times more frequent in men than in women, but the causes aren’t clear. It could be the internal pressure in the skull (which we see in physical activity of any kind) and the altered respiration during the sex act.

A blue whale’s tongue weighs more than an elephant.

“Wen you’re a married man, Samivel, you’ll understand a great many things as you don’t understand now; but vether it’s worth while goin’ through so much to learn so little, as the charity-boy said ven he got to the end of the alphabet, is a matter o’ taste.” Mr. Weller, The Pickwick Papers, Dickens.

Champuru is an Okinawan word that means “harmonious mixture,” and it describes well the mélange of religions, including Shintoism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Christianity, animism and ancestor worship that have all played a part in Okinawan history. The red letters say “Champuru market,” or “chanpuru ichiba,” if you prefer.

Champuru can be translated as a “mix.” Thus, champuru foods are a mixture of various ingredients that are thrown together in a frying pan or wok and fried. A specific champuru is usually named for its main ingredient, although there are many other elements. The most common champuru found in restaurants on Okinawa is goya (bittermelon) champuru, good in summer months.

Champuru has become a name. This photographer Champuru captured this image in Harajuku, Japan.

When Barry Gordy heard Tracks of My Tears, he declared it a masterpiece. Smokey Robinson sang the song in performance and audiences would actually break into tears. The Who’s 1966 hit “Substitute” began when Pete Townshend heard the line “Although she may be cute/She’s just a substitute,” and became obsessed with that one word.

Adult humans have 206 bones. I have drawn every single one of them… many times.

The Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue at West 42nd, Manhattan. Designed by William Van Allen, 1928-1930.

Commissioned by Walter P. Chrysler, the Chrysler building held the title of the World’s Tallest Building prior to the 1931 completion of the Empire State Building. The Chrysler Building tower is replete with automotive imagery and symbolism as shown in this photograph by Margaret Bourke White.

Because of its iconic and beautiful design, the height of the building never really mattered.

One of the engineers at Olympic Studios in London built a miniature rotating eight-inch speaker that went in circles like a Leslie. Jimi Hendrix played the tune Little Wing through this speaker and got a beautiful floating, watery effect.

The Japanese/Chinese write the character for “eat” by drawing a big bowl of rice and then a sign over it to tell how it is pronounced:

The Chinese can simply write

and it will mean “eat.”

The Japanese have a highly inflected language, quite similar to Latin, actually, and so they must add native elements to the basic character, the basic word root,

depending on how it is used in a sentence. This is the way the infinitive “to eat” is written.

In Japanese, this character

is pronounced taberu or kuu when it is by itself. In combination with other characters, however, it is pronounced SHOKU or JIKI.

I like this one. Gesshoku

means “lunar eclipse” because the moon is “eaten” by the earth’s shadow.



TAKU (table)

means “dining table.”

Note to vegetarians:

Colonel Saunders made his fortune by fowl means.

OK, I’ll say goodbye now.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company